2:00PM Water Cooler 6/20/2024

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Bird Song of the Day

Eyebrowed Wren-Babbler, Ho Ke Go Reservoir, Ha Tinh, Vietnam. Lots of jungle noise!

* * *

In Case You Might Miss…

(1) Early voting and October surprises.

(2) Trump and the Latino vote.

(3) Biden and the Latino vote.

(4) Mask warriors?

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“So many of the social reactions that strike us as psychological are in fact a rational management of symbolic capital.” –Pierre Bourdieu, Classification Struggles

* * *

Biden Administration

“US officials don’t see clear path to ending war in Gaza as cease-fire talks stall” [Politico]. “‘No one is confident this deal is going to move forward in the way the administration had hoped,’ said one of the officials, who was briefed by the White House about the state of the cease-fire negotiations. ‘There are so many unknowns.'” • I was about to say “October Surprise,” but then I remembered early voting. Here is a table of early voting start dates, with the Swing States helpfully highlighted:

So maybe a mid-September surprise would be better, if it would help pick up Arizona and Georgia. OTOH, October might still work — depending on the deal — for Michigan (big Muslim population). And then of course there’s Ukraine. (I love that Pennsylvania, the key swing state, is “varied.” It would be. We’ll have to let the pros figure out where it falls on the calendar.)


Less than a half a year to go!

RCP Poll Averages, May 24:

Still waiting for some discernible effect from Trump’s conviction (aside from, I suppose, his national numbers rising). Swing States (more here) still Brownian-motioning around. Of course, it goes without saying that these are all state polls, therefore bad, and most of the results are within the margin of error. If will be interesting to see whether the verdict in Judge Merchan’s court affects the polling, and if so, how.

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Trump (R): “Poll: Latino voters trust Trump on immigration over Biden” [Axios]. “Once reliably Democratic voters, many Latinos are increasingly identifying as independent, and working-class voters are leaning more toward the GOP. An estimated 36.2 million U.S. Latinos are eligible to vote in this year’s election. An Equis poll released Tuesday of 1,592 registered Latino voters in seven battleground states found 41% of Hispanic voters trust Trump on immigration compared to 38% for Biden. The problem for Democrats and Biden ‘is great uncertainty in support’ for the president among Latino voters, Carlos Odio, co-founder and senior vice president for research at Equis Labs, told reporters Tuesday. Democrats don’t hold the advantage they once did with Latinos on immigration, Oido adds.

Yes, but: Immigration has shown to be lower on the list of concerns among Latinos according to various Axios-Ipsos Latino Polls in partnership with Noticias Telemundo. The top issue has consistently been inflation or the economy. ‘Immigration has never been the top issue for Latino voters. But at various critical moments, it played a role in differentiating between the parties for Latinos, even among those who themselves are not immigrants.’…. Biden’s move this week to grant protection to half a million undocumented people with citizen spouses could ‘move the needle among Latino voters,’ per Odio. 72% of Latinos in the survey who said they do not currently support Biden said they would be more likely to vote for him if he put such a program in place.”

Trump (R): “Trump’s Campaign Has Lost Whatever Substance It Once Had” [The Atlantic]. “Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign was, among other things, one of the most impressive displays of branding on a large scale, in a short time, ever. There were hats. There were flags. And above all, there were slogans. ‘Make America Great Again.’ ‘Build the wall.’ ‘Lock her up.’ And later, ‘Drain the swamp,’ which Trump conceded on the stump that he’d initially hated. No matter: Crowds loved it, which was good enough for Trump to decide that he did, too. One peculiarity of Trump’s 2024 campaign is the absence of any similar mantra. At some recent rallies, neither Trump nor the audience has even uttered ‘Build the wall,’ once a standard. Crowds are reverting instead to generic ‘U-S-A’ chants or, as at a recent Phoenix rally, ‘Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit!,’ which has a winning simplicity but doesn’t have the specificity and originality of its predecessors. In their place, Trump’s stump speech has become dominated by grievances about the wrongs he believes have been done to him and his promises to get even for them. It doesn’t quite create the festive atmosphere of eight years ago, when many attendees were clearly having a great time. Where the new, more prosaic feeling lacks the uplift of the past, though, it has still managed to generate enough enthusiasm that Trump leads in many polls and could return to the White House in a few months.” • I like this granular style of analysis very much, but I’m not sure I agree with it. For one thing, it’s also possible that MAGA and its paraphernalia are now so deep in the culture — 2024 – 2016 = 8, after all — that it doesn’t need to be reinforced at the rallies. Based solely on my admittedly hasty analysis of Trump’s Vegas speech (which I did at least read several times): (1) Trump, in my view, goes into the lawfare, but doesn’t swell on it; the speech pivoted on the border, not Trump’s grievances, (Trump also joked about his grievances, like the heat, the teleprompter, nobody caring about him, Rodney Dangerfield style); (2) “Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit” seems like a totally warranted general indictment to me, though somebody who writes articles at David Frum’s place might not see it that way; (3) so far as I can tell, the audience in Vegas, especially given the heat, was having a great time; there was plenty of laughter and chanting, and Trump did a good deal of question-and-answer with them (though this would be better seen on video, and if anybody wants to correct me based on video footage, please do).

Trump (R): “Hollywood Joe Biden’s Celebrity Party” [Wall Street Journal]. “[Biden] flew from the Group of Seven in Europe to a Hollywood fundraiser with George Clooney and Julia Roberts. You do what you gotta do. The L.A. event pulled in more than $30 million for Mr. Biden’s re-election campaign…. Days after his $30 million fundraiser, Mr. Biden announced a whopping $50 million ad spend on a commercial depicting Mr. Trump as a “convicted criminal.” Those two words will define Mr. Biden’s re-election campaign. It might work. Polls have suggested some voters would step away from Mr. Trump following a conviction. If so, the much-maligned Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who delivered the felony conviction for the Democrats, will get the last laugh.

But notice that on the day Mr. Biden tapped the Hollywood ATM, Mr. Trump campaigned at a black church in Detroit. It is becoming hard to suppress the reality reported in polls that Mr. Trump, former host of “The Apprentice,” is peeling off layers of the traditional Democratic coalition—blacks, Hispanics, younger Americans and possibly even Jewish voters. The Democratic base once had something resembling a common identity, but not so much anymore. And it’s getting late to fix that.” • Trump is surely not peeling off entire layers. But all he needs to do is chip away at the margins.

Trump (R): “Chemicals from East Palestine derailment spread to 16 US states, data shows” [Guardian]. • What people will remember is that Trump came right away, while the Democrats dithered.

Trump (R): “The Return of Peace Through Strength” [Foreign Affairs]. “And Trump was a peacemaker—a fact obscured by false portrayals of him but perfectly clear when one looks at the record. Just in the final 16 months of his administration, the United States facilitated the Abraham Accords, bringing peace to Israel and three of its neighbors in the Middle East plus Sudan; Serbia and Kosovo agreed to U.S.-brokered economic normalization; Washington successfully pushed Egypt and key Gulf states to settle their rift with Qatar and end their blockade of the emirate; and the United States entered into an agreement with the Taliban that prevented any American combat deaths in Afghanistan for nearly the entire final year of the Trump administration. Trump was determined to avoid new wars and endless counterinsurgency operations, and his presidency was the first since that of Jimmy Carter in which the United States did not enter a new war or expand an existing conflict.” • Sort of amazing that an administration where white mustachio-ed John Bolton held office was less lunatic than one with elegantly maned Tony Blinken, but here we are.

* * *

Biden (D): “Biden courts Latino voters with ad blitz during Copa América soccer tournament” [NBC]. “President Joe Biden’s campaign is drawing up a new play to reach Latino voters in key battleground states during the Copa América soccer tournament, which starts in the U.S. on Thursday. The campaign is aiming to reach the millions of viewers expected to tune in through a seven-figure ad blitz and organizing effort, a Biden campaign official said. The re-election team hopes that — with international sensations like Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Brazil’s Vinícius Júnior starring in the tournament — it can score with a diverse and hyperengaged audience that may not be that dialed into politics or the 2024 race, the official said. A 30-second spot — titled ‘Gooaalll!’ — will air in swing states that are hosting matches over the next month, like Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina, according to the campaign. The ads will run in both English and Spanish, the campaign said.”

Biden (D): “Biden’s ads haven’t been working. Now, he’s trying something new” [Vox]. “President Joe Biden’s odds of reelection may be worse than they look. And they don’t look great…. It’s not surprising, then, that the Economist’s election forecast gives Trump a roughly 70 percent chance of victory in November. For anyone who doesn’t want an illiberal insurrectionist in the White House, these numbers are concerning enough on their face. But they are even more disconcerting when one considers an underappreciated piece of context: Trump hasn’t even begun to air campaign advertisements, while Biden has been blanketing swing-state airwaves. In other words: This is what the 2024 race looks like when the president enjoys a massive advantage on paid propaganda.” • True. It’s amazing that Democrat lawfare doesn’t seem, as of this writing, to have panned out (though in typical Democrat fashion, they’ve dilly dallied about starting to hammer on Trump’s “guilt” until long after the verdicts). That said, it behooves Trump supporters to avoid premature triumphalism. A close race can, by definition, go either way.

* * *

“The mother of all US presidential debates” [Ed Luce, Financial Times]. “How do you run a debate between two men whose combined age is two-thirds that of the US republic? The answer is to have no audience, mute the one not talking and schedule bathroom breaks (calling them commercials). It would be an overstatement to say that next week’s clash between Joe Biden and Donald Trump will be definitive. But in a close election in which each candidate’s mental capacity is under scrutiny, it will matter a lot. Only three times in US history has a presidential debate arguably changed the outcome. In each case, however, they took place within weeks or days of the election. Biden pushed for a historically early date because so many Americans mail in their votes nowadays. In reality, his team wanted the earliest chance to break a polling deadlock that they assumed would have evaporated by now… On past performance, Biden ought to beat Trump. He was judged the winner in both their 2020 encounters. This was partly because Trump came across as obnoxious.” But Trump is obnoxious. Perhaps that’s what the country needs? Hard to imagine a majority would accept that. More: “The good news for Biden is that the rules mostly favour him. Trump feeds off live audiences and will have to adapt to silence. He will be inaudible when Biden is speaking. Biden would be negligent if he did not remind viewers that his opponent is a convicted felon.” It occurs to me that the flip side of not “feed[ing] off” the audience (horrible locution) is that Trump might remain more calm and controlled; no adrenaline surge. I guess we’ll find out! And: “Biden’s goal will be to ensure his age will be less of a talking point than Trump’s character. On paper his task is simple. In practice it is anything but.”

“Haberman: Trump said he interrupted Biden too much in 2020 debate” [The Hill]. “‘[Trump] has said to people multiple times that he knows that he interrupted too much in the first debate with Biden in 2020, and having just rewatched that debate recently, it’s really striking,’ Haberman said on CNN’s ‘Anderson Cooper 360.’ ‘I mean, we all talked about it at the time, but Biden could barely get a word in edgewise, and Biden was kind of smiling throughout as this was happening,’ she added. The first debate of the last presidential cycle was marked by name-calling by both candidates as Trump repeatedly clashed with moderator Chris Wallace. The 2024 presumptive GOP nominee also repeatedly interrupted Biden throughout the debate, resulting in many calling for a mute button. During next week’s debate, which will be hosted by CNN, both candidates have agreed to muting microphones throughout the debate, except when they are called on to speak. Moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will be able to ‘use all tools at their disposal to enforce timing and ensure a civilized discussion.’ Haberman said Trump is focusing on ‘policy time’ by bringing in different people, including Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.). She signaled he is also practicing how to answer questions about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. ‘And they are focusing on various issues that could come up: abortion, health care, energy, COVID and then very specifically,’ the Times reporter said, and this was one thing that came up last Thursday, what Trump will say when asked Jan. 6-related questions, particularly his statements about pardoning some of the people who were arrested in connection with the violence that day.'” • I wonder if Trump’s riffing on electric vehicles in Vegas was a result of focusing on “policy time.” If so, Trump behaved in a disciplined fashion, a new thing for him.

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Kennedy (I): “Kennedy Raises Just $2.6 Million, a Sign of Reliance on His Running Mate” [New York Times]. “Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential campaign raised just $2.6 million in May, a paltry sum that speaks to how reliant his bid has become on his running mate, the wealthy Silicon Valley lawyer Nicole Shanahan. The Kennedy campaign raised less in May than it had in any previous month in 2024, according to filings on Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission. That was in large part because Ms. Shanahan, who has poured millions into their independent presidential campaign, barely contributed any additional money in May…. Mr. Kennedy and his allies have some unique costs associated with their campaign — primarily ballot-access work that can be expensive.

His campaign spent about $6.3 million in May, but almost half of that was routed through a limited liability company that focuses on ballot access. The money laid out was labeled “campaign consulting,” making his precise expenditures somewhat opaque.”

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MI: “The City That Will Determine Where Michigan‍—and the Country—Goes in 2024” [Slate]. “It’s not news that the voters in Michigan, that ever-powerful swing state and bastion of Midwest culture, will be a key determinant of the entire country’s democratic future come fall. What may be surprising, though, is where the Mitten’s locus of power seems to emanate from these days—as well as the types of Michiganders who are gaining national attention and power as a result. For the first time in my lifetime, the real center of my home state’s political influence lies not in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint, or the serene forests and lake houses of Northern Michigan. Instead, it’s coming from the capital city: Lansing, the often overlooked, underfunded, landlocked municipal center of the state, home to the State Capitol and Michigan State University and Lugnuts baseball. (Also, lots of pre–Civil War buildings and potholed streets and abandoned factories and electric vehicle plants and scientific research facilities and arrays of solar panels.) It’s also coming from the suburbs and farms and professorial residences scattered throughout the lopsided district: the Greater Lansing Area, my flyover hometown situated within the borders of Ingham County.” And: “Within those big metanarratives, there’s a whole lot of Lansing. In the 2018 cycle, one of the many once red seats that fell to the blue wave was Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, which encompassed Greater Lansing. There, Democrat and CIA veteran Elissa Slotkin flipped a seat that had been held by a Republican, then-incumbent Rep. Mike Bishop. That same year saw the ascension of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Michigan State alum and former state representative for the area who took the governor’s mansion back from Republican hands.” • So, a CIA Democrat and the beneficiary of an FBI-instigated kidnapping plot are key figures in the key county of a key state. Hmm.


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Our Famously Free Press

“The deceptive Biden G7 video was quickly debunked, but it kept going viral anyway” [NBC]. “The story revolved around Biden and other world leaders being greeted by a skydiving demonstration last Thursday at the Group of Seven meeting in Italy. Video shows Biden walking away from the leaders and toward a group of parachutists who had just landed, giving them two thumbs-up. But conservative media outlets and the Republican National Committee posted videos shot from angles that cut out the parachutists. Some of their posts said incorrectly that Biden ‘wandered off.’ Without the skydivers Biden was addressing included in those videos, viewers could be left with the impression that he was walking absentmindedly. The misleading videos were an example of so-called cheap fakes, in which low-tech editing or other minor changes to videos, along with incorrect context, can amplify false but convincing messages. The episode illustrated the dynamics of the new information ecosystem, in which tech platforms are hesitant to emphasize vetted, factual information during an election year for fear of appearing partisan — even as partisan operatives take advantage of the platforms’ attempts at neutrality.” • The real issue is the scale of the platforms; that’s what enables frictionless propagation (which is why we should return the blogosphere, sigh).


“I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.” –William Lloyd Garrison

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Covid Resources, United States (National): Transmission (CDC); Wastewater (CDC, Biobot; includes many counties; Wastewater Scan, includes drilldown by zip); Variants (CDC; Walgreens); “Iowa COVID-19 Tracker” (in IA, but national data). “Infection Control, Emergency Management, Safety, and General Thoughts” (especially on hospitalization by city).

Lambert here: Readers, thanks for the collective effort. To update any entry, do feel free to contact me at the address given with the plants. Please put “COVID” in the subject line. Thank you!

Resources, United States (Local): AK (dashboard); AL (dashboard); AR (dashboard); AZ (dashboard); CA (dashboard; Marin, dashboard; Stanford, wastewater; Oakland, wastewater); CO (dashboard; wastewater); CT (dashboard); DE (dashboard); FL (wastewater); GA (wastewater); HI (dashboard); IA (wastewater reports); ID (dashboard, Boise; dashboard, wastewater, Central Idaho; wastewater, Coeur d’Alene; dashboard, Spokane County); IL (wastewater); IN (dashboard); KS (dashboard; wastewater, Lawrence); KY (dashboard, Louisville); LA (dashboard); MA (wastewater); MD (dashboard); ME (dashboard); MI (wastewater; wastewater); MN (dashboard); MO (wastewater); MS (dashboard); MT (dashboard); NC (dashboard); ND (dashboard; wastewater); NE (dashboard); NH (wastewater); NJ (dashboard); NM (dashboard); NV (dashboard; wastewater, Southern NV); NY (dashboard); OH (dashboard); OK (dashboard); OR (dashboard); PA (dashboard); RI (dashboard); SC (dashboard); SD (dashboard); TN (dashboard); TX (dashboard); UT (wastewater); VA (dashboard); VT (dashboard); WA (dashboard; dashboard); WI (wastewater); WV (wastewater); WY (wastewater).

Resources, Canada (National): Wastewater (Government of Canada).

Resources, Canada (Provincial): ON (wastewater); QC (les eaux usées); BC (wastewater); BC, Vancouver (wastewater).

Hat tips to helpful readers: Alexis, anon (2), Art_DogCT, B24S, CanCyn, ChiGal, Chuck L, Festoonic, FM, FreeMarketApologist (4), Gumbo, hop2it, JB, JEHR, JF, JL Joe, John, JM (10), JustAnotherVolunteer, JW, KatieBird, LL, Michael King, KF, LaRuse, mrsyk, MT, MT_Wild, otisyves, Petal (6), RK (2), RL, RM, Rod, square coats (11), tennesseewaltzer, Tom B., Utah, Bob White (3).

Stay safe out there!

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Airborne Transmission

“The airborne transmission of viruses causestight transmission bottlenecks” [Nature]. From April, missed it. From the Abstract: “Here we show that, across a broad range of circumstances, tight transmission bottlenecks are a simple consequence of the physical process of airborne viral transmission. We use mathematical modelling to describe the physical process of the emission and inhalation of infectious particles, deriving the result that that the great majority of transmission bottlenecks involve few viral particles…. While risk calculations consider whether a person might be infected, evolutionary biology poses a different question: If a person was infected, how many viruses initiate that infection? This number of viruses, denoted the transmission bottleneck12, has important consequences for virus evolution: The tighter the bottleneck, and the fewer particles get through, the less genetic diversity will be transmitted between individuals. The absence of initial diversity can limit the potential for within-host evolution, as variants need to be generated de novo before evolutionary changes can take effect… Studies of genomic data have suggested that for influenza and SARS-CoV-2 infection, the transmission bottleneck generally involves few viral particles, with potentially a single virus initiating infection…. Emitted particles are affected by evaporation, sedimentation and diffusion. Ventilation reduces the mean concentration of particles in the air, while in the absence of immediately finding a new host, viruses in emitted particles begin to decay. Combining insights from this literature, we assess the expected transmission bottleneck for infections that occur under a variety of scenarios. Our results provide a strong indication, independent of genome sequence data, that most cases of respiratory virus transmission will involve a tight population bottleneck.” • “A single particle” sounds ominous, but the odds of tranmission (which we know how to reduce, to our betterment) are separate from the mechanism of transmission. More: “While our model of particle spread captures the basic features of respiratory virus transmission, it still makes multiple simplifications. For example, our model neglects effects arising from convection currents caused by individuals in a room41. Effects such as these have the potential to generate non-monotonic levels of exposure with distance from an infected person, as particles are carried up and across the ceiling before falling to a height at which they can be breathed in.” • Another model where “hot air rises” is not built in!

Transmission: Covid

Surge anecdata:

That and the cranked up denialism, here debunked, for a pleasant change–

“Think you have a summer cold? There’s a good chance it’s COVID: experts” [CTV News]. “‘We have to remember COVID is not gone. So, this is a little different than things like influenza where we see it nearly disappear in the summer. The last two summers, COVID has really hung around and as a result, we continue to see waves and upticks of virus throughout the year,’ said Craig Jenne with the University of Calgary’s department of microbiology, immunology, and infectious diseases. ‘There’s a good chance, as we see the numbers rise in the community, that summer cold might be a COVID infection.'” • The word seems to be “uptick.” Maybe if we had some data we could tell if that was the right word!



Rather like this:

And we know who wins, too….

Should somebody check in on Vancouver?

I’m so old I remember when “You do you” was a thing….

Testing and Tracking: H5N1

“‘We’re Flying Blind’: CDC Has 1M Bird Flu Tests Ready, but Experts See Repeat of Covid Missteps” [KFF Health News]. “It’s been nearly three months since the U.S. government announced an outbreak of the bird flu virus on dairy farms. The World Health Organization considers the virus a public health concern because of its potential to cause a pandemic, yet the U.S. has tested only about 45 people across the country. ‘We’re flying blind,’ said Jennifer Nuzzo, director of the Pandemic Center at the Brown University School of Public Health. With so few tests run, she said, it’s impossible to know how many farmworkers have been infected, or how serious the disease is. A lack of testing means the country might not notice if the virus begins to spread between people — the gateway to another pandemic. ‘We’d like to be doing more testing. There’s no doubt about that,’ said Nirav Shah, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s bird flu test is the only one the Food and Drug Administration has authorized for use right now. Shah said the agency has distributed these tests to about 100 public health labs in states. ‘We’ve got roughly a million available now,’ he said, ‘and expect 1.2 million more in the next two months. But Nuzzo and other researchers are concerned because the CDC and public health labs aren’t generally where doctors order tests from. That job tends to be done by major clinical laboratories run by companies and universities, which lack authorization for bird flu testing…. Greninger said the delays and confusion are reminiscent of the early months of covid, when federal agencies prioritized caution over speed. Test accuracy is important, he said, but excessive vetting can cause harm in a fast-moving outbreak like this one. ‘The CDC should be trying to open this up to labs with national reach and a good reputation,’ he said. ‘I fall on the side of allowing labs to get ready — that’s a no-brainer.'” • Read for the horrid detail. This after CDC completely butchered the Covid testing itself, which users who did the “vetting” discovered [bangs head on desk].

Morbidity and Mortality

Why it’s easy to lead people to believe Covid is “mild,” “just a cold”:

Celebrity Watch

“Glenn Close ‘hit hard’ with COVID and RSV at same time, forced to delay filming ‘Knives Out 3′” [CTV]. “The Oscar-nominated actor, 77, said in a video posted to her Instagram page on Wednesday that she has been in London to begin filming ‘Wake Up Dead Man: A Knives Out Mystery,’ and that she only got to film for two days before she ‘came down with COVID and RSV both at the same time.’ ‘As of today, (it) is the first day that I feel like I am getting back to myself,’ Close continued. ‘I’ll have to start all over again and get into the rhythm of shooting. Hopefully I can be back on set tomorrow.’… In the caption of her post, Close wrote that she’s ‘finally feeling better,’ and acknowledged that it’s been a ‘crazy way to start a movie.’ She also encouraged her followers to ‘wear a mask in crowds’… ” • Listening, Taylor?

Elite Maleficence

Even leaving respirators aside, we are 100% certain H5N1 can spread through the eyes, which have avian receptors:

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TABLE 1: Daily Covid Charts

This week[1] CDC June 10: Last Week[2] CDC June 3 (until next week):

Variants[3] CDC June 8 Emergency Room Visits[4] CDC June 8
New York[5] New York State, data June 17: National [6] CDC May 25:
National[7] Walgreens June 10: Ohio[8] Cleveland Clinic June 8:
Travelers Data
Positivity[9] CDC May 27: Variants[10] CDC May 27:
Weekly Deaths vs. % Positivity [11]CDC June 8: Weekly Deaths vs. ED Visits [12]CDC June 8:


1) for charts new today; all others are not updated.

2) For a full-size/full-resolution image, Command-click (MacOS) or right-click (Windows) on the chart thumbnail and “open image in new tab.”


[1] (CDC) This week’s wastewater map, with hot spots annotated. The numbers in the right hand column are identical. The dots on the map are not.

[2] (CDC) Last week’s wastewater map.

[3] (CDC Variants) FWIW, given that last week KP.2 was all over everything like kudzu, and now it’s KP.3. If the “Nowcast” can’t even forecast two weeks out, why are we doing it at all?

[4] (ER) This is the best I can do for now. At least data for the entire pandemic is presented.

[5] (Hospitalization: NY) A slight decrease followed by a return to a slight, steady increase. (The New York city area has form; in 2020, as the home of two international airports (JFK and EWR) it was an important entry point for the virus into the country (and from thence up the Hudson River valley, as the rich sought to escape, and then around the country through air travel.)

[6] (Hospitalization: CDC). This is the best I can do for now. Note the assumption that Covid is seasonal is built into the presentation. At least data for the entire pandemic is presented.

[7] (Walgreens) 4.3%; big jump. (Because there is data in “current view” tab, I think white states here have experienced “no change,” as opposed to have no data.)

[8] (Cleveland) Going up.

[9] (Travelers: Positivity) Up. Those sh*theads at CDC have changed the chart so that it doesn’t even run back to 1/21/23, as it used to, but now starts 1/1/24. There’s also no way to adjust the time rasnge. CDC really doesn’t want you to be able to take a historical view of the pandemic, or compare one surge to another. In an any case, that’s why the shape of the curve has changed.

[10] (Travelers: Variants) Same deal. Those sh*theads. I’m leaving this here for another week because I loathe them so much:

[11] Deaths low, but positivity up.

[12] Deaths low, ED up.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “United States Initial Jobless Claims” [Trading Economics]. “The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in the US eased by 5,000 to 238,000 on the second week of June, above market expectations of 235,000, to mark the second-highest reading since August of 2023, only behind the upwardly revised 243,000 claim count from the earlier week.”

Manufacturing: “United States Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index” [Trading Economics]. “The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index in the US remained positive but eased 3.2 points to 1.3 in June 2024, down from 4.5 in the prior month and missing market forecasts of 5. It marked the lowest reading in five months, indicating the second consecutive month of slowing activity.”

Housing: “United States Housing Starts” [Trading Economics]. “Housing starts in the US fell 5.5% to an annualized rate of 1.277 million in May 2024, the lowest since July 2020, from April’s downwardly revised 1.352 million and well below the forecast of 1.37 million. This unexpected decline shows that high interest rates started to weigh again on the housing market.”

* * *

The Bezzle: “Perplexity Is a Bullshit Machine” [Wired]. “The Perplexity chatbot itself is more specific. Prompted to describe what Perplexity is, it provides text that reads, ‘Perplexity AI is an AI-powered search engine that combines features of traditional search engines and chatbots. It provides concise, real-time answers to user queries by pulling information from recent articles and indexing the web daily.’ A WIRED analysis and one carried out by developer Robb Knight suggest that Perplexity is able to achieve this partly through apparently ignoring a widely accepted web standard known as the Robots Exclusion Protocol to surreptitiously scrape areas of websites that operators do not want accessed by bots, despite claiming that it won’t. WIRED observed a machine tied to Perplexity—more specifically, one on an Amazon server and almost certainly operated by Perplexity—doing this on WIRED.com and across other Condé Nast publications. The WIRED analysis also demonstrates that, despite claims that Perplexity’s tools provide ‘instant, reliable answers to any question with complete sources and citations included,’ doing away with the need to ‘click on different links,’ its chatbot, which is capable of accurately summarizing journalistic work with appropriate credit, is also prone to bullshitting, in the technical sense of the word. WIRED provided the Perplexity chatbot with the headlines of dozens of articles published on our website this year, as well as prompts about the subjects of WIRED reporting. The results showed the chatbot at times closely paraphrasing WIRED stories, and at times summarizing stories inaccurately and with minimal attribution.” • Called it [lambert blushes modestly].

The Bezzle: “Crypto analysts warn of Andrew Tate’s DADDY coin as signs of insider trading mount” [MiTrade]. “Several crypto analysts warned on Friday about the dangers of trading with the so-called ‘celebrity coins’, the current leading narrative in the meme coin space. Social media influencer Andrew Tate’s DADDY token, which is among the most popular ones, has been surrounded by accusations of insider trading activity. Caitlyn Jenner’s JENNER, Iggy Azalea’s MOTHER and TOPG are other tokens in the category, based on meme coins referencing famous personalities that tend to endorse these tokens. Bubblemaps, a crypto data tracker, evaluated the on-chain activity in addresses holding DADDY token and noted that Solana-based token’s 40% supply was sent to the celebrity Andrew Tate.” • Gad.

The Bezzle: “This Judge Made Houston the Top Bankruptcy Court. Then He Helped His Girlfriend Cash In” [Wall Street Journal]. The deck: “Law firm Kirkland & Ellis brought multibillion-dollar cases to David R. Jones’s court, aided by a local attorney who lived with the judge; ‘Why did no one look into it?” • I can’t imagine…

Tech: “iOS 18 could ‘sherlock’ $400M in app revenue” [TechCrunch]. “Every June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, the iPhone maker teases the upcoming releases of its software and operating systems, which often include features previously only available through third-party apps. The practice is so common now it’s even been given a name: “sherlocking” — a reference to a 1990s search app for Mac that borrowed features from a third-party app known as Watson. Now when Apple launches a new feature that was before the domain of a third-party app, it’s said to have ‘sherlocked’ the app…. With the release of iOS 18 later this fall, Apple’s changes may affect apps that today have an estimated $393 million in revenue and have been downloaded roughly 58 million times over the past year.” • One for Stoller. I’m sure whatever agreement with Apple the developers were forced to sign with Apple allowed Apple to steal their intellectual property.

Manufacturing: “Boeing committed ‘the deadliest corporate crime in US history’ and should be fined $24 billion, victims’ families say” [CNN]. “Families that lost loved ones in two Boeing 737 Max crashes said on Wednesday that the company committed the “deadliest corporate crime in US history” and asked the Justice Department to fine the company the maximum $24 billion it could face in a criminal trial. The families wrote to the Department of Justice asking for the fine as the US government considers criminal prosecution of Boeing. The Justice Department said last month that Boeing’s recent string of safety lapses and mishaps constituted a violation of its 2021 agreement that allowed the company to avoid charges for 737 Max crashes in Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia in March 2019 that killed 346 people. The ‘appropriate action now is an aggressive criminal prosecution’ against Boeing including a quick jury trial and ‘criminal prosecutions of the responsible corporate officials,’ including former CEO Dennis Muilenburg, the families’ attorney wrote. ;Because time is of the essence to avoid any statute of limitations from running (out), the Department should begin these prosecutions promptly,’ they wrote in the 32-page letter, which was sent by Paul Cassell, an attorney representing the families. The letter also asks the Justice Department for an independent corporate monitor to oversee Boeing’s safety measures and to direct it in its efforts to improve its quality.”

* * *

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 42 Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 40 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Jun 20 at 2:29:00 PM ET.

The Gallery

More wallpaper:

And gorgeous it is, too. (There’s surely a scholarly paper here to discover whether these patterns were real, from a catalog, or not. Either way, those fin de siecle Parisians really knew how to live!

News of the Wired

“The Hacking of Culture and the Creation of Socio-Technical Debt” [Schneier of Security]. “Culture is increasingly mediated through algorithms. These algorithms have splintered the organization of culture, a result of states and tech companies vying for influence over mass audiences. One byproduct of this splintering is a shift from imperfect but broad cultural narratives to a proliferation of niche groups, who are defined by ideology or aesthetics instead of nationality or geography. This change reflects a material shift in the relationship between collective identity and power, and illustrates how states no longer have exclusive domain over either. Today, both power and culture are increasingly corporate. Blending Stewart Brand and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, McKenzie Wark writes in A Hacker Manifesto that ‘information wants to be free but is everywhere in chains.’ Sounding simultaneously harmless and revolutionary, Wark’s assertion as part of her analysis of the role of what she terms ‘the hacker class’ in creating new world orders points to one of the main ideas that became foundational to the reorganization of power in the era of the internet: that ‘information wants to be free.’ This credo, itself a co-option of Brand’s influential original assertion in a conversation with Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak at the 1984 Hackers Conference and later in his 1987 book The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT, became a central ethos for early internet inventors, activists, and entrepreneurs. Ultimately, this notion was foundational in the construction of the era we find ourselves in today: an era in which internet companies dominate public and private life. These companies used the supposed desire of information to be free as a pretext for building platforms that allowed people to connect and share content. Over time, this development helped facilitate the definitive power transfer of our time, from states to corporations.” • Right. If information weren’t free, it wouldn’t be free to be rented. And speaking of hackers–

“systemd 256.1: Now slightly less likely to delete /home” [The Register]. “Among the issues fixed in version 256.1 are that even as long as five years ago, systemd-tmpfiles had moved on past managing only temporary files – as its name might suggest to the unwary. Now it manages all sorts of files created on the fly… such as things like users’ home directories. If you invoke the systemd-tmpfiles --purge command without specifying that very important config file which tells it while files to handle, version 256 will merrily purge your entire home directory. That fun little nugget of info broke over on Mastodon and has attracted considerable attention.” And: “[I]f your command can potentially do something really dangerous, then don’t let people just run it without warning them and checking.” • Like capitalism….

* * *

Contact information for plants: Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, to (a) find out how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal and (b) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi, lichen, and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. From Greg Quist:

Greg Quist writes: “Golden Gate Park.” Wow! (I love the kneeling figure.)

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Carolinian

    Re embedded in the culture–the Mesa Swap Meet had some Trump kit including a roll up of Trump as Rambo. These could have been left over from previous Trump campaigns and in fact they probably were. Obviously any Pence references would need to be blotted out.

    Honestly I think this is what Trump is enjoying and why he was bored sitting in Mar A Lago. Meanwhile all the Hitler stuff is because the Dems have 1938 on the brain. They cling to “the good war” in hopes that they too can be a “greatest generation.”

    As if.

    1. The Rev Kev

      The real game is to gaslight people and tell them not to believe their own eyes when they see old Joe glitching out or wandering away but to pretend that it is only deep fakes instead. I could see a lot of people signing up for this – as the alternative of believing old Joe to be demented is seen to be much, much worse.

      1. Cassandra

        Here’s the thing: deepfakes can simulate a person moving across a stage, perhaps, or piece together a speech that never happened. But AI is still bad at the nuances of human movement and facial expression, hence the uncanny valley. And those of us who have had the experience of watching someone we care about decomposing while continuing to breathe… we look at Biden’s gait, his eyes, the way he holds his mouth and his hands, and it is very, very familiar.

      2. ChrisPacific

        There was apparently a lot of this in the Indian elections. Another trick was to assemble an obvious AI deepfake delivering a real quote, which could then be denounced as fake even if the politician actually said the thing in question.

  2. Screwball

    “Chemicals from East Palestine derailment spread to 16 US states, data shows”

    Sigh. I’m lost for words but I’ll try. As I said when this happened, I live about 2 hours from this place. I grew up in a railroad town, know railroad people, and have a buddy that worked for a haz-mat company cleaning these things up.

    All of them will tell you the ONLY thing that matters when this happens is GETTING THE TRAINS RUNNING again. This is how it’s always been.


    Analysis of rain and snow samples collected from northern Wisconsin to Maine and North Carolina in the weeks following the crash found the highest levels of pH and some compounds recorded over the last 10 years. That includes chloride, which researchers say was largely released during a controversial controlled burn of highly toxic vinyl chloride carried by the train.

    “We saw the chemical signal from this fire at a lot of sites and far away,” he added. “There was more than we ever would have guessed.”

    In the immediate vicinity and in pockets throughout the city, a potent chemical odor hung in the air for weeks. The pollution also spread far and wide because the wreck’s fires burned for so long, and the controlled vinyl chloride burn was extremely hot and concentrated, Gay said. It sent a towering plume into the Earth’s free troposphere, where winds often blow between 50 and 100mph.

    Researchers were surprised to find “exceptionally high” pH levels in the rain as far away as northern Maine.

    Meanwhile, a low pressure system that moved over the region during the burn pushed the pollution across Michigan and into Wisconsin. All the Great Lakes except Lake Superior were likely affected, Gay said.

    The levels remained elevated for the first two weeks following the fire before markedly dropping in the third week.

    This is all about the burn off that “someone” thought would be a good idea. Does not include what leaked from those cars into the waterways, which eventually ends up in the Ohio river.

    If one reads the news, some say there were things put into place to fix these derailments, but they still happen, and way to often, some recently right here in Ohio (Mansfield, June 1st or 2nd I think).

    No, the only thing that seemed to happen is a huge coverup about how bad they screwed the people of East Palestine, a bunch of photo ops by scum politicians, lip service about new laws and regulations – and most importantly – get the trains running on time.

    Think pandemic, healthcare, cleanup like this, ships hitting bridges (that are probably falling apart as well), the way homeless are treated, as well as elders and veterans…I’ll stop.

    This is not a serious country and the people in charge don’t give one good shit about us. I don’t think it can be any clearer.

    I feel for all those who live in the toxic hell hole of East Palestine. *spit*

  3. Wukchumni

    Gadzooks! Thank goodness I was on a Bombardier in lieu of a Boeing, and all went smoothly, aside from only 3 or 4 masks worn on the flight, and just a handful in the terminal.

    1. ambrit

      We should have crowdfunded you a couple of MAGA duckbill N-95s.
      MAGA – Make Air Great Again

      1. Wukchumni

        I was adorned in a Sherlock Holmes model with matching drop masks on either end, looked smashing!

        1. ambrit

          Great business idea for you. On the other hand. Maybe it isn’t such a good idea.
          Hmmm…. A Sherlock Holmes double sided mask. Does Dr. Watson approve?
          I believe the general term for such a mask is “Fearstalker.”
          Glad to see that you safely completed your travels. Now, heavy vitamins and a liberal application of nasal tinctures and “The Medication That Cannot Be Named.”
          Continue on a safe trajectory.

    2. Late Introvert

      Only 3 other people masked on my recent flight, and two of them only masked in the terminal and took them off in the airplane, wtf?

  4. Fred

    “Latino voters trust Trump on immigration over Biden” What? Trust him to round up every non-white person out there and deport them? Papers please.

      1. converger

        Passports will work, if you refuse to get RealID.

        The irony of needing a passport to travel on your own country should be lost on no one.

        1. ambrit

          Trouble is, as we found out when we got passports ten years ago, American passports have RFID chips embedded in them. Unless you place the passport in a Farraday pouch, it can be tracked continuously. We bought Farraday pouches for ours right away.
          I can imagine going to the Post Office and telling them that you need a passport to fly to your daughter’s wedding in Des Moines. Per the Great Barrington Declaration, you would have to explain why you had a child in the first place, and then why you are allowing further breeding by offspring.

    1. SocalJimObjects

      I read that as a kind of NIMBY thing. When I was out, I wanted to be let in, and when I am already in I want to keep everyone out, so yes, I think in that case, Trump will be more reliable.

      I have quite a few American friends of Indian (South Asia) descent, and they don’t like Desis very much if at all.

  5. Tom Stone

    I went to the Pharmacy yesterday, there’s a large sign ut front that says “Due to the recent surge in RSV and Covid Masks are required” and there’s a stand with baggy blues for adults and smaller masks for kids.
    Ten people in the waiting area, one N95 ( Mine), eight people behind the Counter, one baggy blue worn as a chin Diaper.

    1. JBird4049

      >>>Ten people in the waiting area, one N95 ( Mine), eight people behind the Counter, one baggy blue worn as a chin Diaper.

      I have never quite understood the whole chin diaper thing. If you believe in its necessity, wear the mask. If you do not believe in its necessity, do not wear the mask. Wearing it on your chin just makes you look goofy.

      1. Samuel Conner

        I think that wearing under the chin is a performative signal that the wearer doesn’t give a s#!t about the concerns of the person or entity requesting the precaution. My interpretation of the inner conversation is “you want me to mask when I don’t want to? OK, I’ll go to the effort of putting it on — see, I’m wearing it! — but I’ll wear it in a way that completely defeats the purpose for which you have asked me to wear it.”

        It’s a small act of defiance.

        I suppose that there is a placebo effect associated with “assertion of personal agency”, but I doubt that it is enough to significantly ameliorate the harms that befall people who contract SARS-CoV-2 while unprotected in this way.

    2. B24S

      Yesterday I went to our local Kaiser for an appt. with a Derm, so as to lose a bit of flesh from my ear. Not all staff or patients wore masks, but the MA and the Doc did, at least KNs, though I didn’t look too close because at least they had something on, and I was trying to cover my list in my 15 minutes of care (the Docs’ was black, are any N95s black?).

      Later, as I hadn’t seen the PA (Boy #1) for a few weeks, I stopped by his place to say hi to him and his cat. He works in the ER of Marins’ main hospital, and, as always, I asked about infection levels. Things have been at a low level recently, but this time he said there’s been not only more out-of-season flu, but a rise in Covid positives as well. Told him about the new 5 second rule (WC 6/12). He did elaborate on a recent bug he’d had, but was neg on all, so probably just a cold of indeterminate type (he has managed to as yet escape infection with the big C, no small feat in an ER).

      Mr. T. Stone has in the past reported from the next county north, Sonoma. The CDC chart, [1], shows a red dot about where the county seat Santa Rosa is. Lived there 45 years ago, for some years after, ’til about 1999, it was the fastest growing metro area in the whole USofA. I can’t quite correlate the dots on that CDC map with the Marin dashboard, though. But Marin, along with the rest of the Bay Area, has a high population of travelers and transients. Breathers beware!

  6. Socal Rhino

    Re viral videos of Biden: George Sr’s campaign was dinged by a story that he visited a grocer and showed that he had no idea how much milk cost. I believe that story proved to be apocryphal but it still damaged him because it sounded true and reinforced his existing image as a clueless elitist. Biden’s videos hurt him, deceptive or not, because people already think he’s failing physically and mentally. They resonate, as do rumors that Obama, Schumer and Pelosi are plotting to remove him at some point prior to the election.

  7. mrsyk

    I see it reported widely that the feds are raiding the residence of “progressive” (quote marks in abundance here) mayor Sheng Thao. A recall petition against her just succeeded in getting enough votes to make the ballot as well. Anybody have color on this? I see that the major funder of the recall drive is tech investor Ron Conway, described as The ‘godfather of Silicon Valley,’ in this piece from The Oaklandside. Mr Conway qualifies as unsavory as the head of SV Angel, describes a venture capital firm.
    This bears watching. It’s got a “clampdown” feel to it.

  8. CA

    As for Vietnam, the country has experienced the 2nd fastest growth in per capita GDP since 1985. China is by far 1st, then Vietnam and Korea and India. With a population of 100 million, fast growing Vietnam is an important ally. The Vietnamese government is directing a socialist economy.


    August 4, 2014

    Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, India and Vietnam, 1985-2022

    (Percent change)


    August 4, 2014

    Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, India and Vietnam, 1985-2022

    (Indexed to 1985)

  9. steppenwolf fetchit

    The only Jewish voters that Trump will peel aWAY from Biden will be the ones who feel that ” Gaza isn’t enough” and ” Two, Three, Many Gazas”, etc. I suspect that very few of the Jewish voters who support Biden do so out of feeling that way. The ones who switch from Biden to Trump will be the ones who feel that Biden hasn’t supported Israel hard enough. Time will tell how many or few that is.

    The ones who feel that way already are mostly already pro-Republican already.

    How many feel which way? Perhaps a granular and complete enough study over time will provide actual answers.

  10. ambrit

    North American Deep South zeitgeist report.
    A sudden strong “uptick” in panhandlers and roadside beggars to be seen here. No family begging collectives in evidence yet.
    Down and outers, as distinguished from “normal” looking deplorables, now visibly hanging out around fast food joints and ‘convenience’ stores in the poorer neighbourhoods. I asked one fast food manager about this and she said that corporate only complained when police reports mentioning specific outlets surfaced. Otherwise, as long as the street people didn’t disturb the ‘regular’ customers, they were left alone. “Besides,” she mentioned, “the local police do not respond to simple vagrancy complaints anymore.”
    “How do you handle the more ‘restive’ homeless then?” I asked.
    She laughed and pointed to the cook area in the back of the shop, “We always hire a few muscle boys, and girls now too, to have some ‘persuaders’ available if needed. And they have been needed recently.”
    It hit me that I was seeing the rise of Neo-liberal Vigilantism first-hand.
    The prices in the grocery aisles continue to rise. Nothing spectacular, but noticeable over time. The same applies to non-grocery items, such as paper goods. Several items we buy regularly have risen in price from between ten to twenty percent over the last few months.
    As for masks in public, don’t ask. It is too depressing to see how effectively the “Covid is just another flu” propaganda campaign has succeeded. I worry about the bird flu getting a hoofhold in the pig feedlots. There’s where the dreaded ‘Human to Human’ variety would probably emerge from.
    Stay safe y’all.

    1. petal

      The other week I ran an event in conjuction with the Alumni office and a guy showed up and said “I woke up with a cold this morning.” I said “You probably have covid, I will go get my mask.” We were outside and it wasn’t crowded but I wasn’t going to take chances. He said he had one and would put it on. I thanked him. Kept mine on the whole time he was there. Another group containing an MD showed up later and I was still wearing it and explained why(guy had left by then) and the MD said “Absolutely the right thing to do.” There’s a lot of people coughing around here. Wastewater levels are up since Commencement. I imagine with everyone flying in for that and reunion we are going to have a bit of a spike for a bit.

      One new Biden-Harris sign located in yard of Dem Blob supporters on main road.

      Front just moved through, thankfully. I don’t know how you guys down there in the NADS can stand temperatures like that, ambrit. Hi to Phyl for me.

      1. ambrit

        A wave back from She. (Does anyone read Rider-Haggard any more?)
        The generally watched indicator here in the NADS is the humidity. Mid-eighties F with high humidity can be as bad as high nineties with low humidity. We are looking at mid-nineties and moderate humidity for the next week or two. The kicker will be the overnight temperatures. Our present outlook is for mid-seventies for our overnight lows. That lets a positive feedback cycle set in if it continues long enough.
        We have already had a couple of 100 degree F days. (According to our front porch thermometer.) The variation is significant. The urban areas, such as we live in, have noticeably hotter temperatures, that last longer as the Urban Heat Island effect becomes entrenched. The outlying areas, true sub-urbs and ex-urbs, not to mention the real rural zones display somewhat cooler temperatures compared to the “Big City.” (For some definition of ‘big.’) They cool off faster and more fully at night than do than the Concrete Jungles.
        Rain is a double edged sword. When it rains, the temperature drops, noticeably. After an hour or two, if the sun reappears, that rain soaked into the ground rises as steam and super charges the humidity effect. That’s what we call ‘Fricasseeing Weather.’ After a bout with that sort of climate, one is tempted to let oneself be simmered in a nice white wine.
        Strangely enough, we are not seeing any political yard signs at this moment. Are we just late to the party? (Maybe I don’t patronize the “right” streets.)
        Stay safe. Keep masking.

      2. Randall Flagg

        Covid anecdotal.
        COVIDis absolutely around here in my opinion, at least just to the north (as in a few towns) of you Petal. My better half has a job with an agency in the Green Mountain State dealing with those in housing crisis.
        Two weeks ago she had to meet a client at his apartment but did not go inside, as said client had a bad cold as did housemates. Though trying to keep distance and unfortunately exposed before getting a mask on, she came down with what was thought to be a “cold”. She did a home test and though it was a little past its expiration date it showed a positive result. We assumed it was accurate rather than a false positive and I was able to stay somewhere else for a bit. I truly believe all these summer colds are Covid but no one’s testing, or even interested in testing, though all these “colds” seem to on the somewhat nasty side. Though the pollen in the air has been remarkably bad ( just massive clouds of it ) when thinking about other factors as well. And wouldn’t wearing masks help with that too…
        Stay safe

    2. Carolinian

      Bouncers at the fast food. What next?

      My theory is that the homeless like to (unsurprisingly) go where it is warm. How they get there might be an interesting question since “hopping a freight” now means clinging to the outside of an intermodal container.

      I seem see fewer homeless now that our downtown has become so yuppified. They would hang out in the park areas before.

      Homeless: “there goes the neighborhood.”

      1. ambrit

        Several homeless people who I have talked with over the past years mention, consistently, hitch-hiking along the old secondary highways from place to place. Riding the rails can still be done. It is just more difficult to manage. The highways are the primary travel venue today.
        Those ‘missing’ homeless are hiding out somewhere in the inner ring suburbs. Take my word for it. Squatting is growing. Keep a low profile and don’t make a mess. That is one reason why, at least here, older, run down housing is torn down rather than rehabilitated. It eliminates spots for the ‘Homeless Plague’ to fester and grow. (I have heard exactly such wording used by “respectable” members of the community. Terran human nature doesn’t change much over historical time spans.)
        This being a college town, we have fairly new “student” residence townhouses in a gated enclosure just to the north of the State college campus. Last Thursday evening, the star quarterback on the University football team was shot to death while sitting in the front seat of his, ‘donor’ supplied new muscle car. Three teens were arrested for the deed. It seems they had developed a liking for the vehicle, and when the jock refused to co-operate, they shot him several times. All of this happening in the parking spaces set between two rows of townhouses. As usual, the local news organizations were parsimonious with the details. Where the jock lived, there or elsewhere was not divulged. Prior events that could have a bearing on the crime were notably absent. How the teen killers were apprehended was not divulged. On the other hand, the electronic “news feed” was about one third “sponsored” content. No I don’t want to learn about one miracle hack that doubles my crypto profits. I want to find out just how dangerous my town is. Most definitely, this culture now rates profit above safety.
        So, here endeth the rant. Be safe always.

  11. ChrisPacific

    Biden’s goal will be to ensure his age will be less of a talking point than Trump’s character. On paper his task is simple. In practice it is anything but.

    I wonder if this is another example of people responding to their idea of Trump, rather than the reality.

    One thing that struck me from the Vegas transcript was the lack of age based attacks from Trump. He explicitly said that age wasn’t the issue:

    And you know what? He’s not old. He’s incompetent. He’s not old. He’s not old. I know people that are 88, 89, 92. A man named Bernie Marcus, founder of Home Depot. Bernie Marcus is 95, I think. And he is 100, you talk to him, he’s 100% sharp. This guy, there’s just something missing. And there always has been, by the way.

    If Biden brings the subject up during the debate, he’ll be debating more against his own party, offstage, than Trump. Trump’s best move might be to just stand aside and let that happen.

    1. Carolinian

      Aren’t all of our presidential elections a matter of hope over reality? Or, as some wag said about marriage, “the triumph of hope over experience.”

      Trump is selling an image. Crime boss Biden is selling his supposedly greater virtue. Who’s going to win?

  12. Lunker Walleye

    “Accounting for the Fabrics in Vuillard’s Painting”


    Vuillard was an inspired Colorist and used fabric patterns (or facsimiles of fabric patterns) of the day for his paintings. Here is a link to a Master of Arts thesis, wherein the writer says, “Vuillard grew up in the rather feminine world of his mother’s Parisian corset shop and the dressmaking business she ran from their home. His grandparents were textile designers, and the time in which he lived was experiencing a rich and varied interest in textiles. “
    . . .
    “It is important to acknowledge that a textile historian would be unwise to rely on Vuillard’s depiction of textiles an unambiguous or accurate source of information. Although textiles play a significant role in Vuillard’s paintings, they are more than a record of the textiles that surrounded him. . .”

  13. Wukchumni

    An Orange County court on Friday approved an injunction mandating that Mojave Pistachios LLC pay $30 million in back fees owed to the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority for pumping groundwater without an allocation in Kern County’s eastern desert.

    That $30 million is the accumulation of a $2,130-per-acre-foot fee for non-allocated pumping that was established by the authority in its groundwater sustainability plan and approved by the state back in 2022.

    Mojave Pistachios objected to the fee and never paid it while it sued over the groundwater plan and continued pumping between 6,000 and 7,200 acre feet a year to irrigate 215,000 pistachio trees.

    An Orange County court and later an appellate court both ruled that Mojave had to pay the fee before suing under the state’s “pay now, litigate later” rule even if the fee and groundwater plan were later found to be improper. The California Supreme Court declined to review Mojave Pistachio’s petition seeking an exception to the rule.

    The authority then filed an injunction asking the Orange County court to force the farming operation pay the back fees as well as fees for current pumping. It won that injunction on Friday despite Mojave Pistachios’ insistence the fee would put it out of business.

    “It’s tough,” acknowledged Orange County Superior Court Judge William Claster. “And if it ends up putting Mojave in bankruptcy, even that’s been held to be an acceptable result of this (pay now, litigate later) doctrine.”

    A press release sent two days before the hearing, defined the stakes for Mojave Pistachios as “a battle for its very existence” and that if the injunction were granted it would “directly cause the death of 1,600 acres of trees and shutter a locally owned, private farming operation.”


    A very interesting ruling, in that the pistachio mogul was doing his best to wreck the community in a place where nuts can be grown there-but should they be allowed if it drains the aquifer of everybody else’s needs?

    1. earthling

      Kudos to the authority and the judge for doing the right thing, and let’s hope the nut ranch shuts down instead of appealing it til they find a corrupt judge.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “systemd 256.1: Now slightly less likely to delete /home”

    Ahh, just like the good old days of Unix where if you invoked the command ‘rem -r’ while forgetting that you were in the home directory, it took down everything.

    1. JM

      That one at least makes sense to happen, IMO making it a real PEBCAK.

      This is another reason I’ll never let SystemD onto any of my computers. And I’ll eye everything coming from RedHat with suspicion.

  15. Jason Boxman

    Ha. Latest Dating app interaction regarding COVID, a nurse told me I’m a moron and we don’t know if this variant causes 10% of infections to lead to long COVID, it’s a proven fact that we don’t know this. So I asked if it is good public policy to simply let everyone get infected and later we’ll know if this variant also can cause long COVID?

    Said she had cancer at 23, is immunocompromised, and thinks the entire response was wrong and the vaccine (getting infected) is in the air, and it’s totally okay. A nurse with a foundational misunderstanding of how SARS2 works.

    When I open with Pandemic safety, if I do get a reply, from medical workers it is near universal derision or scolding about how SARS2 is not a problem anymore, didn’t I know? The only real exception so far is the QA nurse at a pharmaceutical company, that tries to avoid it, but didn’t want to quit having a life.

    What a disappointing medical system we have.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Maybe, just maybe, the smart nurses got out over the past four years – or were more than likely pushed out. What you are seeing is what is left. The other day I saw a short video of this former nurse who had been sacked for refusing the vaccine years before showing a letter from her former hospital graciously letting her come to work again as, well, they were kinda short. She recorded herself giving both fingers in reply to that letter.

  16. Jason Boxman

    Keeps happening

    Power Failure Brings Amtrak and N.J. Transit Trains to a Halt

    A power failure shut down all train service along the Northeast Corridor between Philadelphia and New Haven, Conn., for more than three hours on Thursday afternoon, causing significant delays in and out of the nation’s busiest transit hub for the fourth time in the last two months.

    Amtrak said that, on one of the hottest days of the year, the loss of electricity forced it to temporarily suspend all service along that 150-mile stretch of rails, which passes through Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, at about 2:10 p.m. After repairs, service was partially restored around 5:30 p.m.

    Infrastructure risk. I never really thought that much about it. But extreme temperature nukes vital stuff. From melting asphalt to overheating rivers curtailing our savior, nuclear power.

  17. Alex Cox

    The saintly Carter fantasy persists… “his [Trump’s] presidency was the first since that of Jimmy Carter in which the United States did not enter a new war or expand an existing conflict.”

    As long as we don’t count Carter’s creation and funding of the Taliban and his eager support of the contra terrorists in the hope of starting an all-out war on Nicaragua.

    1. CA

      “The saintly Carter fantasy persists…”

      Please document the charges made against President Carter. Specific references are needed.

      1. Big River Bandido

        The commenter stated that Carter’s foreign policy was to boost the Taliban. This is true, and common knowledge. It was an anti-Communist “enemy of my enemy” calculation. Carter also led the way on deregulation with the trucking industry, making airline deregulation the next logical step.

        Carter’s reputation as a humane individual (his sainthood) is quite tarnished by his larger significance as the first neoliberal president. His overall record, blemished as it is by political failure, is probably overly charitable considering the long term effects of his economic policies and the actions and policies of his Fed chief, Paul Volcker.

      2. hk

        Zbigniew Brzezenski ran Carter’s foreign policy and bragged about how he (and Carter) set the trap for USSR by fomenting unrest via religious extremists in Afghanistan long before Soviet intervention. That’s in multiple books he authored. Now, if you say, that’s just Brzezinski and not Carter, and I’ll raise you St W and the devil Cheney.

        1. AhMòStoBene

          References were requested, so here is an excerpt from the oft-cited 1998 interview in which Brzezinski dobs himself and Carter in on Afghanistan.


          Brzezinski: According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

  18. The Rev Kev

    ‘Dr. Sean Mullen
    How to Know There Is a Covid Surge:
    Step 1 = Post something about it (eg “Covid is everywhere,” “There’s an uptick in Covid”)
    Step 2 = Watch for the bot surge paid to swarm in and stifle messaging’

    So who is paying for all those bots?

  19. Jason Boxman

    I haven’t wanted to assume. COVID-19 is bad enough. But the connection is being pondered

    What is more alarming is the prevalence of people suffering from more than one type of cancer. “Having multiple forms of cancer at the same time has also become more prevalent. Cancers typically start in one part of the body and spread,” the Post said. “It’s rare for discrete cancers to begin in different parts of the body during a short window.”


    1. Cassandra

      From the linked article, quoting WaPo:

      Cancer is caused by errors in genetic code within cells. “The human body is made up of trillions of cells in a constant state of growth, repair and death,” said The Washington Post. “Most of the time, cells with damaged DNA fix themselves, or simply disappear. Sometimes, they start collecting mistakes in their genetic code and rampage out of control into tumors.”

      It is true that cancers are caused by errors in genetic code. It is also true, as noted later in the article, that cancer is linked with inflammation, and Covid certainly causes inflammation. However, damaged cells do not “simply disappear”. They are actively scavenged by immune cells or killed by apoptosis in a healthy individual. When that system fails, damaged cells grow into cancer.

      We are only four years into this pandemic. When Leonardi et al started talking about their concern over Covid-induced immune dysfunction, the scoffers pointed out that if that were a problem, we would be seeing a surge in opportunistic infections and rare cancers like those found in AIDS patients a few years after infection with HIV. Now, the msm is starting to talk about recent surges in infectious diseases and rare cancers. Any bets on how long it will be before someone says the next part out loud? Will they keep on blaming immunity debt? Are they hoping that WWIII will sufficiently distract the masses?

  20. The Rev Kev

    Family told me I’m not allowed at my own daughter’s elementary school grad tomorrow if I show up in a mask because it will take the focus away from the event’

    Somebody should really save incidents like this for a book showing the sort of crap that people had to put up with in a world full of Covid deniers. Taking focus away from that event? Did they also ask that mother to show them her smile? It’s like how some hospitals will demand that you remove the N95 that you are wearing and insist on you wearing a blue surgical mask instead. Good thing that these same people are not responsible for condom design either as they would probably put a hole at the end of it to make it a better fit.

  21. griffen

    Testing …is this thing on. 1 2 3…testing. Making sure I ask nicely and I will push the button correctly this time.

    Sorry but two comments went up in smoke. Bouncers at fast food locations…coming to a location near you. Patron who does not speak or order holds up others from placing their order.

  22. Jake

    “The deceptive Biden G7 video was quickly debunked, but it kept going viral anyway”
    Sure the video was cropped, but it’s still not good in the full view. The guy is standing in a group of world leaders and wanders off to give the thumbs up with his back to the camera. Other leaders have to bring him back into the fold. He looks confused the whole time, even if the reality might be that he was lucid. It still looks terrible. Biden camp can cry about the cropping all day long, Trump voters still see a confused old man that needs help from the youngers, and they are correct. Trump certainly spews word salads regularly, but I have yet to see him require someone grab his hand and direct him to the cameras or anywhere else.

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